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need large family advice from BTDT mamas

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
We have an 8 month old ds who has been such an easy baby. My husband and I have always wanted a bigger family. We always agreed at least 3 but I was leaning toward 4. I finally talked him into 4, and after we had our first I started thinking 5 might not be too bad and he actually was considering it! Anyway, we had always talked about having a child every 2 years or so because the thought of starting the "baby cycle" all over again after a big gap seems like it would be hard. Plus this way we can still have our large family before my eggs get too decrepit (we are both currently 28). But after my ds was born, dh decided he didn't want to wait for the 2 yr gap between. I had a c/s with ds so we need to wait at least 9 months before TTC so I can VBAC, but we are looking forward to TTC #2 in a month or so!

We are financially stable enough to support a big family and I believe that my husband and I have the kind of marriage and friendship/partnership that could support a large brood while still loving each other and nurturing our relationship. However, I say all this as someone who hasn't been around children much other than my own who again, is only 8 months old and has been a super easy baby. What I'm really wondering from BTDT mamas is, what are some of the tougher things you've faced with closely spaced kids in larger families? Terrible 2s? Potty training? Anything? Something I hadn't even considered? I want to start mentally preparing myself. If the next one is anything like the first one has been I think it will be no problem, but what does it do to your mental/emotional state if one or more of your babes is high needs?

I guess I'm just worried that I'm going into this thinking everything is going to be a-okay, when there could be some real tough times ahead that I hadn't even thought about yet because I haven't been around kids enough to know and I haven't experienced it with the first one yet. I'm also concerned about BF. DS has nursed like a champ and we co-sleep so I'm wondering if he'd self wean due to the change in milk and I'd probably want to night wean before the baby comes anyway. I never really had aspirations of going much past a year of BF, but I'd definitely want to time any weaning so that its not right when the baby comes because I wouldn't want ds to be jealous or anything. I think I'd be open to tandem nursing, but not sure for how long I see that going. How did you ladies handle all of this? Also if anyone has had multiple vaginal births after a c/s if you have any thoughts on those experiences that would be helpful too. Does the worry of UR or accreta decrease as you've vbac'd more times? Or does each pg present the same risk as the preceding one? That kind of thing...

Thanks so much ladies for any words of wisdom!
post #2 of 20

My closest two are about 23 months apart.  Tandem nursing worked well for us. Hardest thing I think about having a bunch of littles in the house is just that you are doing a lot of the work which can be tiring. It has definitely got easier with the oldest ones now being able to help with chores around the house.

 

VBAC... no personal experience with a c-section but one of my good friends who is momma to a large brood has done a lot of research in this area and posted a study about the importance of vbac for women who want to have several more children. I will see if I can find it. 

post #3 of 20

Kellymom.com is a great resource for info on bf'ing during pregnancy and tandem. 

post #4 of 20

You might like to read the book A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family  by Mary Osten. It's full of great, very practical advice about life in the trenches with multiple kids of various ages and stages.  It's good food for thought thinking beyond just the baby/toddler stages of parenting.

 

Enjoy the ride!

post #5 of 20

Let's see...I'm pregnant with #4 and have an almost 6yo, almost 4.5yo and a 20mo.  

 

My DH and I decided to space closely because of the reasons you cited, though we are older than you are and were older when we started our family. I cannot imagine going back to the baby stage after it is done! We sort of did with with #3 since DD2 potty learned early--we were out of diapers and cribs and baby gear and chasing and nursing for about a year and a half!

 

Having two under 2 with a high needs #2 was about the hardest thing for me so far. My first two are less than 18m apart, and DD2 was sooo intense, a poor sleeper and had multiple food intolerances. Her first year was brutal, and I suffered physically and emotionally. It took night weaning at 15m to help me start getting some of myself back. Luckily my eldest was an easy toddler which helped with that transition--her "Terrible 2s" didn't hit until 3.5yo or so ;)  Unfortunately, sometimes an "easy" first baby is false advertising!

 

Nursing--I've nursed while pregnant twice, and both times my LOs have weaned around 16 weeks of pregnancy. I'm not sure why, but the timing was pretty consistent. I personally am not open to tandeming (the thought quite literally makes my skin crawl), so it worked out for our family in a easy, gradual way. 

 

VBAC--Regardless of whether there is a reduction in risk with multiple VBACs, there is a quite large INCREASE in risk with each subsequent c/s. I'm planning my 2nd VBAC (my kids were vag birth, c/s, VBAC), and I'm still treated the same as a primary VBAC, though really that treatment isn't much different from someone who never had a c/s!

post #6 of 20

For me, it's about being organized. It's about planning ahead as much as possible and trying to "foresee" different obstacles. Like 2 is a walk in the park - 3 is a huge PITA. So I have a DS1 is 3 and DS2 is 1 - they are 25 mo apart. They get along great for the most part but there are moments where it's a challenge. But, that's the way it is. DS1 was a dream in the sleep department when we booted him out of our bed - DS2 not so much. We had to go hard core with him to get him to sleep properly. But he did it and all is well and everyone is happy and healthy. So, plan as much as you can but just don't expect that with each kiddo that you have that it'll be the same as the previous one. They are all so independent and different it can be mind boggling! Remember to make time for you and your hubby together, alone as well as individual time so that way everyone can recharge appropriately. 

It's so great when the older of the 2 helps the littler. SO sweet! Makes me want several more ;-) working on getting hubby on board ;-) tee hee

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much ladies! I will check out that book, and I really appreciate all the advice and your sharing of your experiences! It helps me believe it's not impossible :)
post #8 of 20
Well it looks like we are adding no 3 to the mix. Got a faint bfp after mild spotting, which I never do.
post #9 of 20

One is an adjustment, two is as well. Three was perfect, four made things chaotic. I'm planning baby #5 now. What's one more, when you already have chaos? ;)

 

Seriously, I found the easiest age gap to be 5 years. I know a lot of big families, and no two are remotely alike. It all depends on the personality of the older children, especially when the age gap is under 2 years.

 

Regardless, everyone will adjust in their own way. You'll be fine. :)

post #10 of 20

One of the hardest issues for me to deal with is that I can not be there for everyone. Some one always needs something, always. Mine are 9, 5, 3, and 9 months. I did not get pg easily the second time, DD1 was almost 4 when DD2 arrived. DD2 was 2.5 when DS1 was born and DS1 was 2y3m when DS2 was born. It is complete and utter insanity in my house. The noise is nonstop, we live in the car, the kids fight more then they get along. The picture of all the kids chatting about their day around the dinner table. Ha! ROTFLMAO.gifMy first 3 all have varing special needs, and then I got yet another high needs baby with the last one. Saying that day to day life is difficult would be an understatement. That being said, of course I love all my kids but no, it is not easy. DH and I have zero nurturing time and haven't in years. At the end of the day, there is nothing left for each other. When they are are older, I am not entirely sure that we will even know who each other are anymore. 

 

 

A 2 year that got into an entire bottle of pills while I was nursing the baby or got lost at the park for over 20 minutes because I looked away for a minute at the baby. When they are crying and want to be held but you do not have enough arms to go around, those are the difficult things. Telling my oldest that I can't do something special she wants to do because it isn't multiple small children friendly or attending her performance with crying baby because that is just how life is. I need help daily, just to do the little things. Friday at school pickup I had the baby melting down because he hadn't napped all day long, he is wailing his head off and thrashing everywhere. I am trying to get all the kids through the busy parking lot without hoding hands or carrying anything because I can't and then my older boy decided he doesn't want to go where I am going and throws the ultimate temper tantrum in the middle of the road. Another mom had to come to my rescue, take the screaming baby so I could carry the 30 lb kicking and hitting toddler to the car. And that is just about my life every day. Always a slightly different scenario  but I just spend the entire time choosing which child is more important at that very second. If it isn't life or death then, often they get ignored sadly. And perhaps I'm not the best one to respond right now, it has been a long, long year already, I am feeling quite fried. 

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post

One of the hardest issues for me to deal with is that I can not be there for everyone. Some one always needs something, always. Mine are 9, 5, 3, and 9 months. I did not get pg easily the second time, DD1 was almost 4 when DD2 arrived. DD2 was 2.5 when DS1 was born and DS1 was 2y3m when DS2 was born. It is complete and utter insanity in my house. The noise is nonstop, we live in the car, the kids fight more then they get along. The picture of all the kids chatting about their day around the dinner table. Ha! ROTFLMAO.gifMy first 3 all have varing special needs, and then I got yet another high needs baby with the last one. Saying that day to day life is difficult would be an understatement. That being said, of course I love all my kids but no, it is not easy. DH and I have zero nurturing time and haven't in years. At the end of the day, there is nothing left for each other. When they are are older, I am not entirely sure that we will even know who each other are anymore. 

 

 

A 2 year that got into an entire bottle of pills while I was nursing the baby or got lost at the park for over 20 minutes because I looked away for a minute at the baby. When they are crying and want to be held but you do not have enough arms to go around, those are the difficult things. Telling my oldest that I can't do something special she wants to do because it isn't multiple small children friendly or attending her performance with crying baby because that is just how life is. I need help daily, just to do the little things. Friday at school pickup I had the baby melting down because he hadn't napped all day long, he is wailing his head off and thrashing everywhere. I am trying to get all the kids through the busy parking lot without hoding hands or carrying anything because I can't and then my older boy decided he doesn't want to go where I am going and throws the ultimate temper tantrum in the middle of the road. Another mom had to come to my rescue, take the screaming baby so I could carry the 30 lb kicking and hitting toddler to the car. And that is just about my life every day. Always a slightly different scenario  but I just spend the entire time choosing which child is more important at that very second. If it isn't life or death then, often they get ignored sadly. And perhaps I'm not the best one to respond right now, it has been a long, long year already, I am feeling quite fried. 

 

Yes, yes and YES to all of the above! Our kids are almost the same ages and it is TOUGH. Life isn't life, it is surviving.........

 

Of course I do love all of my kids, and I enjoyed growing up in a big family so I wanted to give that to my kids. I almost feel like it is the same as working two jobs for the money, or getting your medical degree. In the end it will be worth it, but maaaaaaaaaaan is it hard right now!!!!

 

I think once my youngest is about 2 1/2 things will start to level off. I mean, it will still be hard, but sometimes I feel that the newly mobile stage to about 2 1/2 is harder than a new baby.

 

To sum it up. Would I do it again?         Absolutely.

 

Am I INCREDIBLY glad I don't have to?         YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

post #12 of 20

I would like to reply as a BTDT, but from the POV of one of the children.  I am one of four (which I actually don't consider a "large" family, but then, my dad is one of 13, so I guess it's all perspective....).  Did we fight?  Yes!  Was the house always a mess?  Yes!  Was it noisy?  Yes!  Did my parents struggle?  Yes, but only during the "young" years.  Would I trade my siblings and childhood for anything?  NO!!!  I had such a fantastic childhood, and cannot imagine my life without my brothers and sister. 

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
This is great! This is exactly what I was looking for...the good and the bad and everything in between. My grandma is one of 11 children and we have Thanksgiving and 4th of July with her whole family every year (we've all stayed pretty close) and I don't know that I want a family that big, but I love the idea of a larger family with multiple siblings for each child to grow up with. Thank you so much and any other advice from those with babes close in age is very welcome too!
post #14 of 20

I come from a family with 4 kids, and we fought like crazy as kids.  As adults, we all get along really well, and love to get together often.  There are many spontaneous dinner parties at my moms house.  She loves it, and we love it...but she has to keep her freezer and pantry stocked at all times, cuz you just never know =)

 

I have 4 kids, and I love them so much, and feel that they complete my family, but it has been difficult and challenging at times.  My last two are 19months apart (now 2 and 8 months old) and the last year or so has been a real struggle.  Pregnancy with a toddler is difficult to manage sometimes, but it's easier than newborn and toddler.  Now I have mobile baby and toddler...all new challenges.

 

When you have a big family, and esp with kids close in age, it is so important to have a lot of support.  It is helpful to have a partner/dh who is willing to come home from work ready to step into the dad roll immediately.  It is helpful to have supportive family who can come over to help, and not feel they need to be entertained.  By help, i mean doing dishes, laundry or making dinne, or helping organize, whatever.  And not just in the first few weeks after baby comes, but even as the children are older.  I have a mother and MIL who are happy to help out like this.  And sometimes, I prefer that they come to play with the kids while I clean or make dinner in peace.  It's a little like babysitting, but I'm right there for feedings, and other needs.

 

It is also vital to have a strong emotional support system.  Friends or family (or partner) who are willing to listen to you complain about your kids and not pass judgement, or give you "i told you so"s.

Of course, you can have a large family without physical or emotional help, but it makes it so much easier and enjoyable.  You will come across rough patches, times when the baby won't sleep, the preschooler is throwing tantrums like crazy and the oldest child only wants to argue with you.  With other loving, caring adults nearby it is so much easier to weather the storms.
 

post #15 of 20

I agree with strawberry princess about the support. In my case, I had no support. My family is unwilling to help out but once in a great while, DH has a high stress, demanding, long hours job so any support/help had to be hired. When #4 was born and then proceeded to scream for the next 6 months of his life, I waved the white flag and we had to hire a part time nanny for a while to just be an extra set of hands to help. It still is rough, but slowly getting a little more tolerable, I still say I need two of me to get everything done, it isn't always possible with just one person.

post #16 of 20

I'm one of four (all girls, spaced 26 months, 41 months, 26 months so 4 babes in 7 years). I recently told my mom that I want three or four (DH says 2 or 3, we've just started TTC #1) and my mom says that she loves her big family now but that she honestly doesn't even remember the first five years of my youngest sister's life. Just trying to get through the day to day with 4 little girls was such a struggle and it's all a blur to her now. She says she looks at pictures and doesn't really remember them being taken. I think big families are great but I also know that I sometimes felt jealous because baby got more attention than oldest (understandably).

post #17 of 20

my mother had 5 girls in 7 years.  i wouldn't have traded my siblings for anything.

 

That said, my husband and i never thought we'd have any kids, until we found out we could.  we had our DS1 who was a very hard child, and then aimed for DD2 b/c he was so hard that another child could only add a minimum of chaos b/c his biggest need was constant companionship and friends.  She made our family so much more balanced.  we were 'surprised' w/ DD3 and DD4 in close succession.  I tandem nursed DD2 & DD3, and then DD3 & DD4 with a minimum of fatigue and stress, as i focused very hard on getting a good diet and a schedule of rest that worked for us all (1-3 pm is sacred, and don't call or stop by).  I chanted in my head after DD4 "one and one, two and through, and four why not more?" b/c something shifted in my over the birth of the last 2.  DD2 was 10 months old when i conceived DD3, and nursed exclusively for the first 5 months of pregnancy, but DD3 was the most blessed, amazing and easy baby.  She slept for the first year of life.  She's still (at 2 1/2) just an angelic and peaceful child with a sweet nature.  DD4 came along when she was 18 months, and is a fiery, demanding and exhausting creature with such an intelligence and sincerity that she's a joy.

 

Yes, there have been times where i felt like i couldn't keep up, or keep track of them all.  we didn't have a car for much of the winter and lived in an isolated location.  we're love going out to eat, or to any social even.  with scheduling, clear boundaries, direct communication and explanations and expectations, my children are very well behaved and very content b/c they feel safe, never alone, cared for, and loved.

 

They all potty-trained by 2 (i do not take credit for this, my children all are completely motivated to start potty training oddly early).  my son is 6 now and is amazing at teaching the girls how to take care of themselves.  my 4 year old loves to cook and literally is by my side and actually helping as i do stuff around the house especially in the kitchen.  we're thinking about trying for number 5 sooner rather than later because while we think that it may be better for my body to get a rest and recharge between babies, this close in age thing is really amazing for our children who are all best friend now at ages 6, 4, 2 1/2 and 1.  I loved that when my last 3 babies were born, they knew their siblings voices and early on bonded and trusted them.  it's hard.  it's would be pretty near impossible except for the blessed grace and joy we all share in this adventure right now.  I'm so glad I've got them so close and that they are so close to their father and I as well.

 

best to you,

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by strawberryprincess View Post

I come from a family with 4 kids, and we fought like crazy as kids.  As adults, we all get along really well, and love to get together often.  There are many spontaneous dinner parties at my moms house.  She loves it, and we love it...but she has to keep her freezer and pantry stocked at all times, cuz you just never know =)

 

I have 4 kids, and I love them so much, and feel that they complete my family, but it has been difficult and challenging at times.  My last two are 19months apart (now 2 and 8 months old) and the last year or so has been a real struggle.  Pregnancy with a toddler is difficult to manage sometimes, but it's easier than newborn and toddler.  Now I have mobile baby and toddler...all new challenges.

 

When you have a big family, and esp with kids close in age, it is so important to have a lot of support.  It is helpful to have a partner/dh who is willing to come home from work ready to step into the dad roll immediately.  It is helpful to have supportive family who can come over to help, and not feel they need to be entertained.  By help, i mean doing dishes, laundry or making dinne, or helping organize, whatever.  And not just in the first few weeks after baby comes, but even as the children are older.  I have a mother and MIL who are happy to help out like this.  And sometimes, I prefer that they come to play with the kids while I clean or make dinner in peace.  It's a little like babysitting, but I'm right there for feedings, and other needs.

 

It is also vital to have a strong emotional support system.  Friends or family (or partner) who are willing to listen to you complain about your kids and not pass judgement, or give you "i told you so"s.

Of course, you can have a large family without physical or emotional help, but it makes it so much easier and enjoyable.  You will come across rough patches, times when the baby won't sleep, the preschooler is throwing tantrums like crazy and the oldest child only wants to argue with you.  With other loving, caring adults nearby it is so much easier to weather the storms.
 

this is key to being content and satisfied during the early years.

 

i haven't had enough support, but just the dream of it, and the support my husband has grown so much in giving has given me hope.  we're TTC number 5 b/c we're moving to a community that will support emotionally, physically and spiritually.

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
That is the tricky part for us. We don't live near any family so we won't have much outside support. My dh is AMAZING though and we make such a great team. We do everything together and that has been working out really well. I do kind of feel like if the ground rules are laid and the kids are relatively well behaving then it shouldn't be too bad. I love the advice about being organized and keeping a schedule, thank you for that ladies! Growing up it was just me and my brother and it was always good kid versus bad kid. I hated that. I loved how in bigger families there was the artistic kid, the book smarts kid, the athletic kid, etc. Because I didn't grow up in a bigger family, I'm not sure...do large families regularly get 1 on 1 time with each kid and a parent? Or is that a pipe dream and its usually group kid wrangling? Do you all think the jealousy between oldest/youngest sibling is worse when there's 2 kids or more kids (because there's more people to compete with for attention)? I do worry a little about getting into a mentality where I'm surviving my family instead of enjoying them, but I guess that all depends on me. I'm sure it will be a blur though, time is already moving so fast!
post #20 of 20

Yes to all previous posts above...and I second Mary Ostyn's book, it's been very helpful for me to hear her perspective.  I grew up with only one sibling, and always wished I'd had more and always wanted a big family.  Our kids now are 13, 11, 8, 5 and almost 2.  I am often talking myself out of FREAKING OUT at the noise, chaos, messes, and sibling bickering (sometimes it's fighting, but usually just obnoxious bickering), throwing things in the car...as I didn't grow up with this it's hard for me to remember that it's normal and comes with the territory rather than it happening because I'm a bad mother and haven't given my children good enough boundaries.  The Waltons, the Ingalls', the Brady Bunch...these are the big families I saw, and man are they all very much more well behaved than my children, or any children in real life!!  

 

I found it easier to have the first four because they were all young children (elementary school or younger), but now as they get older they are involved in more activities and school expectations/time commitments are higher so it's a really challenging balancing act and sometimes they/we just have to opt out or miss out on special things or meetings or whatnot.  That's hard for whoever it affects.  "We just can't do everything!" is what I tell my kids.  In general it's my older kids who are more challenging.  The little ones are predictable- fits and tantrums, whining, not negotiating with them, etc- but parenting the older ones is far more complex- friend choices, peer pressure, attitude, puberty!!!  

 

As far as personal attention goes, I think we do a good job of making sure they are all seen, heard and loved.  Now that we have older kids we can leave them all at home once the littles are in bed so we can go out about 8:30 for a couple of hours with our cell phone and not worry.  That is a real treat and a long time coming!!  We spent about 10 years without hardly going on dates or getting out together, because sitters are expensive and I didn't feel comfortable leaving small babies anyway, but we watched lots of movies together and loved to play games together.  Our marriage has stayed strong and I think it's actually easier now that we've matured- we were much more dramatic when we were younger!  

 

There are peaceful moments when my olders are at school and I'm on the computer and drinking tea while the little ones play or nap : )  I absolutely love that they have each other to grow with, to LEARN from each other; watching my 13 year old be nurturing to our baby is really sweet, and it's an important opportunity for him (to see himself and for us to see this in him) because he's often the disgruntled teen monster!  I love the energy that a baby brings to family, offering quiet and pure sweetness in moments of chaos.  When the kids are having fun and playing well, it's just priceless and makes it all worth it.  I appreciate the natural lessons of being giving and not selfish, caring for others, "fair doesn't mean everyone gets the same life," tolerance and patience, and more that growing up in our bigger family is giving us all. 

 

Looking back, I wish I had paused my breeding after two kids and adopted a couple before resuming reproducing : )  That's my only hindsight thought.

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